Friday, December 7, 2012

Vision & Toys



"It is only a slight exaggeration to say that what we see today, how we perceive the visual world around us, depends on the visual experiences we had during the first stages of our lives."  So said the Nobel Committee in awarding the 1981 Prize in Medicine to three researchers in vision who had affirmed that discovery.  Among the best “visual stimulators” for youngsters are the toys they play with each day.

Here are some toys that help build eye-hand coordination, general movement skills (for everything from writing to sports), shape and size discrimination (needed for reading), space and distance judgments (needed for driving and sports) and visualization and visual memory skills that enable us to develop concepts.

Birth to 5 months:
       Toys: sturdy crib mobiles, gyms, large, bright rattles, bright rubber squeak toys
       Activities: Peek-a-boo, patty cake

6 to 8 months:
       Toys: stuffed animals, floating bath toys
       Activities: Hide and seek with toys

9 to 12 months:
       Toys: sturdy cardboard books, take-apart toys, snap-lock beads, blocks and stacking-nesting toys
       Activities: roll a ball back and forth

       Toys: bright balls, blocks, zippers, rocking horse and riding toys pushed by the feet
       Activities: throwing a ball

       Toys: pencils, markers, crayons, beanbag-ring toss games, peg hammering toys, sorting shapes-and-sizes toys, puzzles and blocks.   A great toy for children this age is a stacking, nesting coffee percolator with parts that nest together when properly assembled.

Careful selection of toys that can build visual skills should help provide a solid foundation upon which a child can develop more efficiently in school and life.

For youngsters who have missed out on some of the vision developmental steps during their early life, an individual optometric visual training program can help them “fill in gaps” to provide that solid visual foundation.

--James B. Mayer, OD, FCOVD
    Agape Learning & Optometry Center
    Thousand Oaks, CA